SAN DIEGO -- In a relationship that started last October, Major League Baseball and Habitat for Humanity continue to work together to help hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast region.
The charity and MLB have joined forces during the World Baseball Classic semifinals and finals to build three more homes in a parking lot adjacent to PETCO Park. The homes will be added to the eight homes built in Houston during the World Series that were shipped to the Gulf Coast to help victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
"Major League Baseball helped kicked this off during the World Series when this was fresh on everybody's mind," said Chris Clarke, senior vice president of communications for Habitat for Humanity International. "Unless you are living in the Gulf Coast, you are probably thinking about other things other than families down there and what they have to go through. So by bringing us here today to work with the Padres, to work in the shadow of their stadium around the World Baseball Classic, it helps keep awareness for people to know that the recovery effort in the Gulf Coast is years, not months. We have to be there today, tomorrow and beyond and Major League Baseball has been a big part of that."
"It's only a small thing in terms of the recovery, but it does make us feel like baseball is doing something to give back to the community," said MLB president and CEO Bob DuPuy. "Habitat has been a remarkable success, the number of homes they have built during the course of the year has grown exponentially and what I really like about it is that people that are moving into the homes, take ownership, have a commitment to the homes -- have a financial commitment and so it does feel like its a part of community growth and rebirth."
Volunteers from the San Diego community and especially from Bank of America, which has worked with Major League baseball and Habitat for Humanity from the outset, will be working on constructing one home a day for the next three days.
"We are very proud to bring awareness to the issues on the Gulf Coast with the rebuilding," said San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders. "To have Major League Baseball contribute what they did and to allow us as a city to see what's going on -- to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity -- having corporate partners and most of all having the Padres invite us to be part of this -- we are very excited about it."
"With this event here in San Diego, it's not just about the baseball games," said Padres CEO Sandy Alderson. "It's about underscoring a number of things, the growth of international baseball, the growth of the downtown community in San Diego and certainly the good works that people are doing -- not only in this community, but around the country -- to help those who, unfortunately are victims of hurricanes and other unfortunate occurrences. We are very pleased to be associated with this."
Habitat for Humanity has a two-year goal to build 1,000 homes in the Gulf Coast region. Once these three are completed, the current number will be up to 181 homes.
"Major League Baseball has done a great thing in partnering with Habitat for Humanity in trying to reach those goals," said Alderson. "It's great to make cash contributions and those things are probably most critically important in the long term -- not only does this provide housing for people, but it helps keep focus on what happened there in the aftermath. Things are not fine in the southeast even today. This helps keep focus on all the victims until the problems are worked out."
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.